(Friends: Last week concluded our Saturday Series consideration of the character and nature of God - except for this present essay, an addendum that speaks to the effect that knowing our Lord's character and nature has on our own. Thanks for allowing one more! Glen).
The Saturday Series - Addendum
"His Character, Our Character"
The importance of knowing God begins with, well, with the fact of knowing God. Upon this basis, we then discover ourselves as spiritually birthed and constituted in Christ.
"This is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent" (John 17:3).
"If any man be in Christ, he is is a new creature. Old things are passed away, behold, all things are become new."
(II Corinthians 5:17)
Humanity exists to serve as the spiritual dwelling place of its Creator. Unlike stars, planets, rocks, and even animals, we are personal beings who share God's capacity for thought, reason, volition, and the devotional and emotional reality of love. Originally created in His image, we can and should know our Lord as the focus of our attention, the object of our affection, and the Deity of our worship. The entrance of sin into the human race gravely damaged our capacities, subjecting them to the mastery of sin's self-centeredness. Through Christ, salvation births us into the newness of life whereby God's restoration of His original purpose for our existence begins. The Spirit bears witness with our own spirit that the Lord of Heaven is the Lord of our hearts. We know He exists, He is present, and He is involved in our lives and in all things. Such knowledge constitutes the very essence of eternal life, as the Lord Jesus declared, because again, we exist to know and regard Him as the epicenter of our existence. "In Him we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28).
Such knowledge leads also to the discovery of what kind of God created and indwells us. Interestingly, the Apostle Paul taught that such growing awareness leads us to realize our own character and nature.
"Beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, we are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord" (II Corinthians 3:18).
Note this intriguing explanation of how the Holy Spirit transforms believers into the spiritual and moral image of Christ. We behold the Lord's glory by looking in a "glass" that is translated in terms of a mirror rather than a window. Thereby we become increasingly like our Lord. Thus, Paul would have us see the Lord's glory, or the content of His character, as we look at ourselves. How can this be? We often think, speak, and act in direct antithesis to being a mirror image of God. At times, we rather cast an inverse reflection: "Look at me and you'll find out what God is not like!" Why then did Paul call us to look into God's spiritual mirror and see His character and nature? How does this lead us to reflect His being in our own being?
The answer lies in God's promised presence in us. We must believe Him to be the Life of our lives. "To live is Christ" (Philippians 1:21). We then look into His Word to discover what kind of Lord so deeply and thoroughly inhabits us. If He is our life, then the character we see is also our grace-birthed character, as formed in us by the indwelling Spirit of Christ. "I delight in the law of God after the inward man… Put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness" (Romans 7:22; Ephesians 4:24). Certainly we do not always think, speak, and act accordingly, and just as certainly, the matter involves ongoing need for growth during this present lifetime. However, Paul plainly states that seeing the Lord's glory changes us "into the same image." He also plainly states that such perception results from viewing ourselves in the mirror of the Spirit. We must see ourselves in Christ because this is truth, and also because discovering His character reveals not only Him to us, but also ourselves as alive in Him. Thereby we more and more live accordingly as His presence motivates and enables us to affirm newness of life in Christ, and thus, to "walk even as He walked" (I John 2:6). Or, as Paul mandated, "If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit" (Galatians 5:25). Believers do live in the Spirit, Christ is our life, and His character indwells and enlivens our own. Thus, we seek to know God as the essence of eternal life, and to know ourselves as related to Him for the outworking of His gracious and transforming presence in us.
"Ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh."
"Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life."
Weekly Memory Verse
"These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."